Five different fighters entered UFC 171 with undefeated records and all five emerged with their perfect records intact. They included several rising young stars and some debuting fighters. Each one looked impressive and have bright futures in front of them. Let’s take a look at what those futures might hold.
Myles Jury had the biggest win of the five by defeating Diego Sanchez. This was a huge test for Jury and he passed it easily. Sanchez is a tough matchup for anyone and especially for a young fighter. It is more than the intense pressure he brings into the fight, he will also test his opponents mentally and emotionally.
Jury fought the smart and technical fight he needed to get the win. He used his movement, timing and striking to pick Diego apart in the standup. Jury got the only takedowns of the fight and easily shutdown any of Diego’s submission attempts. It was a masterful performance from a fighter who looked ready to take the step up to the next level.
His next fight should be against someone inside the top ten. Two fighters who currently are not scheduled to fight anyone are Rustam Khabilov and Gray Maynard. Each one would be a different challenge for Jury and would test him. With two or three more wins he could find himself in the title picture.
Another young fighter that is off to an impressive start in the UFC is TUF 17 winner Kelvin Gastelum. He took on the tough and talented Rick Story. At one point Story was the next big thing at welterweight. After consecutive wins over Johny Hendricks and Thiago Alves he was sitting at 13-3 and likely one big win away from fighting for the title. Since then he has gone 3-5 including this loss to Gastelum. Now it is the young Gastelum that is climbing the welterweight ladder as the next big thing.
Since winning TUF, Gastelum just continues to impress. In this win we got to see him comeback from trouble in the waning moments of the second round. Story had him hurt and in danger of being finished as the round ended. Gastelum showed great heart and toughness and got the win
Next for him should be the veteran Mike Pyle. This would be a great test for Gastelum to see if he is ready for the next level. Pyle is a well-rounded and dangerous opponent who also holds a recent SD win over Rick Story. You also have the intrigue of the young lion versus the old lion with this matchup.
When it comes to young and exciting fighters Justin Scoggins demands your attention. From his high energy dancing before the fight to the fast paced action inside of the octagon, Scoggins forces you watch him.
In his win over Will Campuzano he showed a strong all-around game with a finishers mentality. He was not able to get the stoppage but that had a lot to do with Campuzano, who is better than most fans realize. That is what makes Scoggins domination of him so impressive.
The flyweight division is growing deeper each month it seems like. Many fans were already talking about Scoggins challenging Demetrious Johnson after UFC 171. Let’s slow down just a little before we put Scoggins in with Johnson. I think a fight with Zach Makovsky would be the perfect test for Scoggins. The winner would find themselves within a win or two of a title shot.
Sean Strickland had every reason to be excited after his win over Bubba McDaniels via a first round RNC submission. At the age of 23 years old he had just won his UFC debut over a TUF 17 alumni. It was quick, slick and sick. It was a brief glimpse of Strickland and very impressive. The matchup I like for his next fight is Luke Barnatt who is also undefeated. They each would bring out the best in each other and make for a great fight.
At 32 years old, Francisco Trevino made his UFC debut at UFC 171 and after his defeat of Renee Forte his record now sits at 12-0. After a close first round that Forte won Trevino came on to take the last two. He showed excellent defense on the ground and dominated in the standup. Trevino has spent time at welterweight and is a big lightweight. There are many possibilities for his next opponent. Three that come to mind are; John Makdessi, Kevin Lee or Adriano Martins. Any of them would provide a nice challenge for his next fight.
It is rare to see five undefeated fighters on the same card in the UFC and even rarer to see them all leave with their zeros. Their performances at UFC 171 give the fans a lot of reasons to be excited about their next fights whoever they might be against.
image credit – DeeZee
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